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Q&A with McLaren's Jenson Button

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Although McLaren’s Jenson Button had to watch team mate Lewis Hamilton take his second successive win at last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, he left Montreal a very happy F1 driver. Not only did Button’s second-place finish place boost him up the driver standings to within three points of the lead, but he climbed on a plane safe in the knowledge the MP4-25 is finally a frontrunner. Speaking to his official website, he explains how he now needs to improve his qualifying pace to take full advantage...
Q: The team’s third one-two of the season, and a result that sees Vodafone McLaren Mercedes at the top of the drivers’ and constructors’ championships -not a bad weekend!
Jenson Button: Yeah, it was a fantastic weekend. Firstly, it was great to be back racing in North America again, particularly in Montreal, which we’ve not visited since 2008. It’s a fantastic city and a great track. It has to be one of the best races of the year - it has a great atmosphere, loads of really enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable fans, and I love driving there. And I had another great race; on Friday, it was obviously a setback to find that Jakob (Andreasen, race engineer) would have to go home because he was ill, but it shows how much strength in depth there is in this team that Phil (Prew, principal race engineer) was able to step right in and take over. And we barely missed a beat. Second was a great result - I still need to work to find that final tenth or so in qualifying, but I was very satisfied with my race. I’ve really got to grips with the car now, and, even though we all missed Jakob, Phil did a great job. I really feel like this is one of the most driveable cars I’ve ever had, and it really doesn’t require too much set-up work to produce a good lap time, which is the sign of a good car.

Q: You mentioned improving your qualifying pace - is that key?
JB: It’s not absolutely key, because this year’s races have shown that, if you look after the tyres and conserve fuel, then the race can definitely come to you, particularly in the later stages. But now that Lewis and I have a front-running car, it’s an area where I’ll be directing more focus. I’ll admit, Lewis did a pretty phenomenal job in qualifying at Montreal, but he’s always been fast around there. But we have some improvements in the pipeline that should allow us to take on the Red Bulls in qualifying, so hopefully that will also help.

Q: The team has done an incredible job to turn MP4-25 into a winner - what’s the secret behind that?
JB: It’s no secret - you just can’t believe how hungry this team is - and we really feel like we’ve moved on a step from where we started the season: obviously, we’ve been pushing all year, but now it feels like we’ve really gone up a gear; we’ve really got some momentum. And while that’s most apparent to everyone out on the track, where we notice it is back at the factory, or in the garage, where that difference is really evident. At the MTC (McLaren Technology Centre), the guys are working incredibly hard to bring forward new parts - we’ve already brought some of our updates forward by a race, and we’re now planning a much larger upgrade for the Silverstone weekend. Those guys are flat-out, and it shows on track. And in the garage too, I think we’re working better than ever. I remember at the start of the year that it was taking me time to adapt the car’s set-up over a race weekend, but that’s such a distant memory now - we’re really able to get the car dialled in incredibly quickly, and we can always find ways to make it faster. It’s such an impressive operation, and I’m really proud to be playing my part - alongside Lewis - in developing the MP4-25 into a frontrunner.

Q: Who could have predicted that, at just before the midway point, you’d be three points off the top of the world championship table?
JB: Absolutely, but I think it really justifies my decision to join Vodafone McLaren Mercedes at the start of the year. I know there were some people who were openly questioning that decision, and my motivation for moving, but I think I’ve shown that it was the right move. One of the motivating factors was being able to watch - from the outside - how much performance the team was able to bring to last year’s car, transforming it from a backmarker into a race winner. That really struck me, because it not only showed how much development power is available to them, but also how hungry they were to chase performance, particularly when it would have been easier to knock it on the head quite early on and focus on 2010. That racer’s approach really excited me. I always said that I was looking for a new challenge, and that’s exactly what I’ve got: it’s exciting to be working and racing alongside Lewis, and it’s a real buzz to be the world champion and to be fighting for the championship again. Being in the thick of it is exactly what being a racing driver is all about. This is an incredible season - and we should all really enjoy it. And that really struck me after the race on Sunday - in the press conference, you had three world champions on the podium - when was the last time that happened? It makes you realise what an incredible field we have this year.


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2012 Race Drivers

Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber
Lewis Hamilton
Jenson Button
Fernando Alonso
Felipe Massa
Michael Schumacher
Nico Rosberg
Kimi Räikkönen
Romain Grosjean
Paul di Resta
Nico Hulkenberg
Kamui Kobayashi
Sergio Perez
Daniel Ricciardo
Jean-Eric Vergne
Pastor Maldonado
Bruno Senna
Heikki Kovalainen
Vitaly Petrov
Pedro de la Rosa
Narain Karthikeyan
Timo Glock
Charles Pic

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